It is important in the aftermath to ensure that all concerned parties accept that the court’s words are final
It has been 14 years since the August 21 grenade attacks shocked the nation -- an attack in which 24 people lost their lives and more than 300 people were injured.
For 14 years, the victims of the attack have waited for justice, and finally yesterday, the court handed down its verdict, in which 19 people were sentenced to death, including the former state minister for home affairs, Lutfozzaman Babar, and 19 others were sentenced to life imprisonment, including senior BNP leader Tarique Rahman.
The 2004 grenade attacks remain a blight on Bangladesh’s contemporary history, in which it has now been proved beyond reasonable doubt that then senior government officials, many with direct links to the BNP-led alliance government then in power, and terrorist group Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami conspired to assassinate then leader of the opposition and current prime minister Sheikh Hasina, taking the life of AL women’s affairs secretary, Ivy Rahman, and 23 others.
This was nothing more than a planned attack to derail our democracy, and destroy the values on which Bangladesh was built.
What was most reprehensible about the attack was that it was planned and carried out by and in collusion with the highest offices of the government. There can be no greater crime than to use the state machinery to commit such an atrocity and then to use the state machinery to try to cover it up, as happened here. The fact that members of the government and the then ruling party were behind the attack makes August 21 a uniquely iniquitous episode in our recent history.
Thus, the courts have spoken, and justice has been served.
However, it is important in the aftermath to ensure that all concerned parties accept that the court’s words are final. While the right to peacefully protest remains embedded in our constitution, it is crucial to do so without violence, and that the lives and livelihoods of ordinary citizens are not put at risk as a result.
After all this time, the victims and the family and friends of those who have lost their lives, and who were injured in the attack, can finally get closure, and we commend the courts for ensuring that the hammer of justice remains a strong one.
Justice has been served to the victims and their families, and at the end of the day, this is what matters above all.